Studies & Degrees in Animal Psychology

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The ability of an animal to be aware of its environment and make judgments about it is called animal cognition. This is part of the study of animal psychology which generally refers to the understanding of an animal behavior—whether it is instinctive or learned—and instincts in its natural habitat and in the unnatural human environment. The foundation of animal psychology is your understanding of the difference or various differences between the animal’s learned behavior and instinct. As a study of animal behavior and mental life, animal psychology is used by veterinarians to refer specifically to the study of the animal’s disordered behavior or a forced change in its behavior.

Animal psychology as a course of study is offered in many schools anywhere in the world or even online or distance education programs. One of these online programs offers an animal behavior course for 100 hours for students of psychology, animal owners and animal lovers, as well as for people who work with animals such as pets, farm and wildlife animals. The course consists of eight lessons including Genetics and Behavior, Influences and Motivation, Animal Perception and Behavior, Behavior and the Environment, Instinct and Learning, Social Behavior, Behavioral Problems and Handling Animals. Another online program, this time for a master’s degree, is also offered by the Breyer State University for 58 semester hours with a prerequisite of a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, behavior analysis, ethology and zoology. The program is aimed at providing an in-depth overview of animal behavior from the perspective of behavior analysis, and at dealing with basic science, critical thinking and research methods. An animal psychology center in South Dakota conducts classes on animal training to diagnose and solve problems to improve harmony between humans and their pet animals. The center claims being able to train not only dogs but nearly all kinds of animals, from ferrets to horses or bunnies (young rabbits) to big cats.

In the United Kingdom, various colleges and universities offer both undergraduate and post-graduate courses on animal psychology. A degree in zoology with animal behavior is usually earned from these institutions that emphasize animal behavior in which students discover or learn how animals interact with one another in their respective environments. Certain textbooks and published articles on animal psychology can provide guides in your study of the program in a formal or non-formal or online school. These include (a) Current Topics in Animal Learning: Brain, Emotion and Cognition, (b) 20th Century Psychology with Part III on Animal Psychology, (c) Animal Psychology: Viewpoint and Program, (d) Theories of Animal Memory, (e) Animal Cognition, (f) Emotion in Man and Animal: Its Nature and Relation to Attitude and Motive, and (g) Motivation of Behavior: The Fundamental Determinants of Human and Animal Activity.

After you complete the course, you are qualified to land a career as animal trainer, humane society worker, or field researcher and veterinary technician, or in academic institutions, zoos, amusement parks, aquariums and agricultural industries.